ProSieben CEO: better off alone but open to merger interest

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The logo of German media company ProSiebenSat.1 in front of its headquarters in Unterfoehring

BERLIN (Reuters) – The chief executive of ProsiebenSat.1 Media said on Tuesday he was aware of the interest of international media companies in merging with the German broadcaster, and would not close his mind to any reasonable idea.

But Rainer Beaujean told ProSieben’s annual general meeting: “Our own strategy is clear and does not need any help from outside.”

Beaujean, who took the helm as the COVID-19 pandemic struck, has led ProSieben into a recovery and is pushing to diversify out of its core entertainment franchise into dating and e-commerce.

That has tested the patience of Italy’s Mediaset, which has built an economic stake of 23.5% in ProSieben and has called for management to engage in its push to consolidate the European broadcasting industry.

“We will not close our minds to any reasonable idea. If we are asked to enter into strategic talks, we will of course listen to the proposal with an open mind,” Beaujean told the AGM.

Any proposal should be advantageous to ProSiebenSat.1 and all of its stakeholders, Beaujean added, reiterating his view that it was “almost impossible to achieve” cost synergies via cross-border media mergers.

Beaujean said ProSieben’s core commercial TV business was performing strongly, with advertising revenues up by 40% in April and by 60% in May, putting them in line with the figure from the same month two years ago.

He noted that ProSieben’s shares had not only outperformed those of other European media companies over the past year, but also beaten the likes of Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon.

The stock is up by 36% in the year to date, valuing the business at 4.3 billion euros ($5.26 billion).

($1 = 0.8173 euros)

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine, editing by Emma Thomasson)